Monday, June 16, 2008

Ron Sillman has a post which I'm sure you've all seen by now about Conceptual Poetics and Flarf. I'm very good at making connections, and very bad at distinguishing points of contrast, but I do think that Ron's (somewhat lighthearted, I think) suggestion that Flarf is to projective verse as conceptual poetry is to the New York School isn't bad. Although tonally I associate recent Conceptual work more with big Olsonian epics and Flarf with a casual, energetic line and a way of recording daily or seemingly unimportant information in a Frank O'Hara kind of way.

I was also thinking about the footnote to Ron's post:

"From my perspective the great “tragedy” of langpo is that there were no other seriously contesting approaches to poetry. Actualism, which I’ve written about before, dissipated after the death-by-alcoholism of Darrell Gray, and the NY School, gen 3, was never interested in working out its relationship to other poetics, period. Everyone else was pursuing the isolate mode of individualism, still the most popular (and futile) option."

I think of New Narrative in San Francisco and 3rd generation New York School as being the other serious contesting approaches to poetry relative to langpo. But it's true that I can't think of any particular poetics statements. But it's also true that there's a lot I haven't read. Can anyone think of/point me towards something (and by something I mean a piece of writing) that might be an articulated poetics from either group?


K. Lorraine Graham said...

I know that my capitalization is inconsistent in this post.

Gary said...

I'm sure there has to be some new narrative statements, although I can't think of any off the top of my head. Maybe in an old issue of Soup?

Tangentially related to the parsing out into one of two camps idea, and speaking of new narrative, Steve Abbott's The Lizard Club has a really funny graph in one section where he parses out various writers into "light" or "dark" ... and I think it was maybe more specific than that, like "light" or "dark" _hippies_?

So, like, Richard Brautigan is light, and Jack Spicer is dark.

No, wait, not hippies. But something, though. Shoot. Maybe just light and dark? Although I remember it being more specific than that.

I obviously don't have this book anymore.

Do you have it? Please look this up, if so!

Joseph said...

Well there's this, though it's after the fact. Might have some leads.

I seem to recall having a book written in the 80s about New Narrative; can't remember the name or who it was by. It's in storage right now.

rodney k said...

Hi Lorraine and All,

Just back from the Orono conference, where the uneasy New Narrative/Langpo relationship came up in a few different venues. Eileen Myles, in a plenary session (still not sure what that means) with Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian, offered some reasons for why New Narrative decided to be narrative, not poetry, and sort of leave the poetics to the Lang Pos. The feeling was I think that experimental poetry had hit a wall and only narrative, tweaked and reconceived, could reach where they wanted to go. (Robin Tremblay-McGaw's paper said some of this too, and Rob Halpern, and I might be conflating some here--there's a lot going on at once at Orono.)

Also, though I'm sure you'll find some good poetics-type statements about New Narrative, I came away from the conference with the sense (even from the way the papers were delivered) that part of the point of New Narrative was a refusal to do poetics IN THAT WAY. Engaging with ideas about the New Sentence was also a way of valorizing it, or reproducing the politics which they wanted to sidestep. Not "competing" is also a form of engagement, and to read the moment--this was probably my big "takeaway" from the conference--means to learn to read the silence.

Sorry for the long post. I'm glad you're bringing this up, Lorraine. That footnote struck me, too.

K. Lorraine Graham said...

Gary--yes, a friend is getting copies of old back issues of Soup right now as I type. And I'll have to check out Lizard Club.

Joseph--I'd forgotten about that Gluck piece in Narrativity, so thanks for pointing me to it.

Rodney--I've heard the poetics of New Narrative (and 3rd Generation New York School, now that I think of it) described that way--as partly a refusal to do poetics in the way that various Language Poets were, so I think that's part of what Ron means. But there was so much interaction and cross-polination between all three of these groups that it strikes me as deeply odd to not think of NN and 3rd Gen NYS as being viable poetics options, even if they weren't writing poetics, per se.

Robin said...

Bob Gluck's Long Note on New Narrative was first published, I believe, in 1981 and then reprinted later in Narrativity and then in Biting the Error. Certainly, New Narrative and Langpo were fellow travellers in the SF Bay Area in the Seventies and Eighties, a time of generative and also aggressive contention as the Historical Communities Panel at the SPT Aggression Conference delineated. The New Narrative--New Sentence--New Left Panel at Orono that Rodney writes of covered a lot of this territory--illustrating the complex and embedded relation of the work of these writers, all of whom were deeply committed to a writing that was socially engaged though what that meant and what forms it took were disparate. It seems to me that these writers (I mean NN & Langpo) also found that contemporary poetic methods and forms were insufficient for attempting social engagement. Many of them turned away from "verse" to writing strategies that look like prose and that make use of devices like the new sentence and new narrative.

Also as Rodney mentions--it is important to read the silences. New Narrative writers never were as "professional" as the langpo writers. While they wrote numerous articles that appeared in journals like Poetics Journal, they weren't then putting together anthologies and editing journals the way the langpo folks were. New Narrative writers were conducting poetry workshops at SPT and the like. But, it is also true that scholars like Jameson who have written about Langpo have also erased the rich context in which langpo texts were being written. Soup, as Rob Halpern discussed at SPT and Orono was a critical journal in which some of the NN and Langpo people appeared alongside of one another.

Anyway, that's all for now. So much to say about all of this.
Robin Tremblay-McGaw